Friday, January 22, 2010


There is a 'new' comfy chair and ottoman in the corner. Next to the wood stove. Deep and cushiony. I can scoot back in and dangle my feet, transforming into a doll-sized version of myself, or sit sideways - toes on the arm, warming by the stove. But best of all is the ottoman because when put to use, it turns the big, comfy chair into the big, comfy lounge. And it's impossible not to tuck in with a little stack of beautiful books for a bit of armchair traveling (and tasting).

Lots of inspiring stuff in those books; plenty to keep busy with, but in the meantime a simple bowl of tomato soup is suiting me just fine...
Tomato Soup
(adapted for the winter pantry from the recipe for 'Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup' in the Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics)

Saute together 1 diced yellow onion and 1 peeled and diced carrot in 2 Tb. olive oil in a soup pot for about 10 minutes, or until very soft. Add to this 3 cloves of garlic (minced) and 3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (chopped finely) and cook another minute. Add 1 (28 ounce) can of whole, peeled tomatoes (broken with your fingers) and their juices, 2 tsp. sea salt, a few grinds of black pepper, 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (or water), and a small handful of chopped fennel fronds (or herb of your choice). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour. Remove the pot from the stove and run it through, a bit at a time, a food mill fitted with the medium sized disk set atop a large bowl or second soup pot. Discard the solids left in the mill and return the soup to its pot. Add 1/4 cup of whole milk (or cream, or nothing at all) and gently reheat and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Monday, January 11, 2010

a little birthday

Over the weekend, I had a little birthday.
Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs (courtesy of Heidi's page) were rolled into tiny wonton-wrapper bundles (doubling the paneer and substituting smoked paprika for chile powder)...
...And served with her Mango Chutney Dipping Sauce (found in here).

Also pilfered, was the recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Falafel.
Which was dolloped with a thick and tangy, mint, cilantro and garlic yogurt sauce (found in here).

Both were served alongside so many other tasty bites made by some of the best cooks (and greatest folks) I know. Thanks to you all for making it such a great time!

Monday, January 4, 2010

looking forward


This new year came in with an icy wind and surprise seed catalogs in the mail. Undeniable that winter is in its full and bitter-cold swing, yet a little glimpse - a reminder, really - that things do grow here and that sun and warmth will be shuffling in later this year. With a mug of hot tea and these inspirational catalogs, it's a bit warmer in here already.

I hope the new year brings us all great things.

And tasty things too - like this dish I made not too long ago:

Crispy Potatoes and Spicy Shitakes

(adapted from a similar recipe in the January 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine)

1 to 1 1/2 Lbs fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

about 8 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into strips

2 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp. dried lemon thyme (or regular thyme)

red pepper flakes (to taste)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potato slices with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange slices in one layer.

In a small baking dish, toss the sliced mushrooms, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a bit of olive oil.

Roast the potatoes on the bottom rack in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or so - until they are crispy and golden. Roast the mushrooms at the same time on the upper rack of the oven, for approximately 15-20 minutes - until they have softened and the flavors have mingled.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and toss together on a serving platter. Serve hot, with a grating of cheese, if you like - or some greens on the side, lightly dressed.